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Horse that periodically bolts

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  • #41
    What strikes me is that it sounds like this horse has had quite a bit of pro training yet he still can't canter easily under saddle.

    It wasn't clear to me what his canter is like on the lunge (calm/easy vs unbalanced/anxious) but if a horse can't learn to canter in a reasonable amount of time with multiple pro trainers it does sound like there's something very wrong with him.

    Whether what's wrong is ptsd-like, or physical, is hard to guess at without knowing more.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #42
      J-Lu, this horse gets corrected every time he does something wrong. When he bolts, as soon as the bolt is under control, he gets sent right back to work in the same gait (almost always canter). His tendency at that point is to continue trying mini bolts until he finally tires and settles. At that point work is stopped. When he kicked farrier, he was slapped. He had tried several kicks which missed during that session and he was slapped each time. This horse has some aggressive tendencies and when he is disciplined, he tries to give it right back. One trainer told me "you don't want to get into a fight with this horse if you can avoid it--he won't back down." He is like this with other horses too. The farrier questioned whether he could have a retained testicle due to his aggressive tendencies. No idea on that, but he is not overly interested in my mare when she is in heat. He has been through tons of groundwork with 2 of the trainers as well as myself. Interestingly, he is very responsive to groundwork and not the least bit of a problem when doing that.

      kande04, his canter on the lunge line is just like under saddle--too fast, unbalanced, some bolting, very difficult transitions into canter. In fact, it is the same way at liberty. With side reins, he can get much more balanced, but still too fast and difficult upward transitions.

      Comment


      • #43
        If you have him on any supplements, remove them. Some horses will act like they are crawling out of their skin on some things. Jet went from a normal horse that was well behaved in crossties to trembling, wild eyed, snorting, dancing around, and wild under saddle within a couple of days on Glaanzan 3 supplement for hooves/coat (has flax and other stuff in it). Took him off it, and he was back to normal. Several others have reacted similarly to MSM.
        . I know PSSM can also cause spooking/bolting if not addressed, as can ulcers and Lyme disease.

        Comment


        • #44
          Originally posted by horsephotolady View Post
          J-Lu, this horse gets corrected every time he does something wrong. When he bolts, as soon as the bolt is under control, he gets sent right back to work in the same gait (almost always canter). His tendency at that point is to continue trying mini bolts until he finally tires and settles. At that point work is stopped. When he kicked farrier, he was slapped. He had tried several kicks which missed during that session and he was slapped each time. This horse has some aggressive tendencies and when he is disciplined, he tries to give it right back. One trainer told me "you don't want to get into a fight with this horse if you can avoid it--he won't back down." He is like this with other horses too. The farrier questioned whether he could have a retained testicle due to his aggressive tendencies. No idea on that, but he is not overly interested in my mare when she is in heat. He has been through tons of groundwork with 2 of the trainers as well as myself. Interestingly, he is very responsive to groundwork and not the least bit of a problem when doing that.

          kande04, his canter on the lunge line is just like under saddle--too fast, unbalanced, some bolting, very difficult transitions into canter. In fact, it is the same way at liberty. With side reins, he can get much more balanced, but still too fast and difficult upward transitions.
          Don’t you see how much your horse is unhappy? He’s most probably in pain from something that cannot (or us very difficult to) be diagnosed.

          From what you are telling us, not only his behavior hasn’t improved from all the training, he’s being worst.

          Frankly, you should do him a favor and put him to sleep.
          ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

          Originally posted by LauraKY
          I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.

          Comment


          • #45
            Originally posted by horsephotolady View Post
            he is very responsive to groundwork and not the least bit of a problem when doing that.
            What kind of groundwork are you saying he doesn't have a problem with? The horse kicks, doesn't lunge well, and sounds just generally disrespectful. All of those things are groundwork. I wouldn't be riding something that has no respect for me on the ground. If you've ruled out physical issues, and you want to stick with this horse, find a trainer who will start at the beginning with him (not the one you mentioned earlier who avoided "fights" with him because they knew they wouldn't win... that says a lot). It sounds like he's just been allowed to run the show and that translates into the riding.

            Comment


            • #46
              If I were in your shoes, I'd put this horse to sleep. He's already injured people (your farrier). How much longer before someone has to be hospitalized?

              He very well may have a physical issue causing this. No horse is going to do this maliciously. But unless you're willing to spend significant time and money above what you've already done, whether it's physical or mental is a moot point. You may discover 5 years and $15k later that it was a physical issue that can't be fixed in a way that will make him safe.

              If I were in your shoes and had money to burn, I'd have a full exam with lots of xrays (especially back and neck) at a teaching hospital, maybe even nuclear scintigraphy. Then hope for a definitive result. If I didn't get anything definitive, I'd euthanize him and have a necropsy done.

              Comment


              • #47
                Originally posted by horsephotolady View Post
                J-Lu, this horse gets corrected every time he does something wrong. When he bolts, as soon as the bolt is under control, he gets sent right back to work in the same gait (almost always canter). His tendency at that point is to continue trying mini bolts until he finally tires and settles. At that point work is stopped. When he kicked farrier, he was slapped. He had tried several kicks which missed during that session and he was slapped each time. This horse has some aggressive tendencies and when he is disciplined, he tries to give it right back. One trainer told me "you don't want to get into a fight with this horse if you can avoid it--he won't back down." He is like this with other horses too. The farrier questioned whether he could have a retained testicle due to his aggressive tendencies. No idea on that, but he is not overly interested in my mare when she is in heat. He has been through tons of groundwork with 2 of the trainers as well as myself. Interestingly, he is very responsive to groundwork and not the least bit of a problem when doing that.

                kande04, his canter on the lunge line is just like under saddle--too fast, unbalanced, some bolting, very difficult transitions into canter. In fact, it is the same way at liberty. With side reins, he can get much more balanced, but still too fast and difficult upward transitions.
                Thanks for answering! I know some trainers suggest putting the horse right back to work as if nothing happened. Some trainers will do a one-rein-stop or hind-end disengagement when a horse misbehaves. A German vaquero-trained guy taught be that because he saw my horse acted like a stallion by being hypervigilant with his surroundings and he rides lots of Iberian stallions. I thought my horse was "proud cut" also but the breeder assures me that he wasn't. Try making the right thing easy and the wrong thing very hard under saddle. It's hard to bolt when doing a leg yield or shoulder-in at the canter. Or circles you can make smaller and larger. Perhaps if it takes bolting to tire and settle him he needs harder physical work at the canter? Try NEVER doing a long side without shoulder-in or leg yield, never circling without leg-yielding in or out even gently for a while. Try doing frequent trot and walk transitions out of the canter so he knows he can't build up a head of steam. He might be cranky to all of this at first, but he'll adjust.

                Try using a rope halter. Slapping him for kicking isn't enough. A rope halter puts pressure on the nose and poll that a padded halter can't. If/when he kicks at the farrier, have your farrier stand aside and back him down your barn aisle. Give him consequences to bad behavior. A slap is nothing. Backing up 40 steps is. He can't raise his head, either, use that rope halter AND RELEASE when he's obliging to say "nope, this is the behavior I expect from you around humans and your life will get hard if you try to pull rank".

                It sounds somewhat that your horse has a dominance problem as well. If he always "gives it back" he thinks he's alpha. You have to say "no, you're not". That's not a slap. Today, the NH trainer who works out of the barn got a new horse in for training. Long story short, we decided to move the 2 mustang mares to a pasture with "Bruiser", a percheron/fresian cross who has seriously bitten other geldings. He's 17.2. The mustang mares are 14.3 and 15hh. Man, did they both put him in his place with series of double-barrel kicks when he was simply in their space. Their body language was all about "oh no you didn't! Get out of my space, jerk". He's low man in that pasture. Sometimes, you have to speak Horse Language to a horse challenging your place in the herd. You are boss horse. Period.

                Interesting that he's great with groundwork. I've discovered that my horse is better with groundwork than under saddle with some stuff because when it's groundwork, he "sees me" and he isn't alone or going first when he's scared. Under saddle, it's as if he thought he was alone and going first when he was younger because he didn't think I was really there when on his back. He was a very fearful horse. For example, even now, he' great on trails with other horses but slams on the brakes and gets super tense if I try to make him the lead horse. He does this just as his nose is past the lead horse. He's not a leader.

                It is telling that he's better with side reins. Maybe he needs to be ridden over his back more? The rushing and fast tempo are consistent with his green way of going - I wouldn't worry about that but I'd actively discourage this in a way he can understand. Don't punish him, try pleasantly saying "that's nice, be we don't canter that fast or on the forehand". Maybe shelve the canter until you can teach him how to respond to half-halts at the trot. Again, tell him "that's nice, but we don't trot that fast. In fact, I'll use my seat to show you how sloooow we can trot". He'll complain at first but just stay with it for several weeks, yes weeks, and don't lose patience. Show him how you want him to go. Do something like stopping and backing up every time he bolts or goes too fast. He'll learn that you increase his workload when he does these things.

                These are some suggestions to try. It's so hard to suggest stuff because I don't know who you worked with or your horse or you. Thanks for listening!

                Try making the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard, and see where that gets you.
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #48
                  Thanks J-Lu. These suggestions are very helpful. Yes, I do think he has dominance issues. I have a mare in his pasture who tries to put him in his place, but he fights back. Neither backs down. I have learned to separate them when being fed so there is nothing to fight over. For the farrier, I do use a chain over his nose, but did not try the backing up trick. And this was the first time he has ever acted out with the farrier, so it took me completely by surprise. We even twitched him and could barely control him with that. It was truly bizarre. We are planning to sedate him next time.

                  When in work, he is vastly better with other horses around...I do think you have a point about him being good for groundwork because he can see me. He is very respectful when I do things on the ground such as moving his hindquarters, shoulders, asking for his head to come down, sidestepping, going over tarps and obstacles. His main issues seem to be with cantering. And that one strange farrier visit.

                  I am anxious to see how he responds to treatment for PSSM. Wish it didn't take so long for the diet to kick in. My vet says I need to give it a minimum of 2-4 months.

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    The fact that he has the same canter issues at liberty is a clear sign to me this is a physical issue, not a training / behavioural one. Sounds like something in the hind end that has progressed to the point it is now physically painful for him to balance on 3 legs for the farrier.

                    You could invest a lot more money on diagnostics to pinpoint where the problem is but sorry to say I don’t see the point unless you have the resources to keep him, treat him and retrain him or retire him yourself. And with an issue that’s clearly severe and has been present for so long, I’m doubtful any amount of treatment and training can make this horse safe.

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      Forgive me, I haven't read the entire thread so I apologize if i'm repeating. But some thoughts on my experiences with bolters:
                      1. Is he ex-Amish in anyway? I've dealt with some difficult Amish ones before that seem to bolt randomly. It's really hard to bring that back.
                      2. Ulcers? Especially for the hindgut, i've had sucralfate help a lot on a bolter.
                      3. Was he gelded late? I had a confirmed bolter (that the owner didn't reveal to me) sent to me for training that only bolted when he was around mares in heat. He was fine fine fine all winter and then around the full moon and first heat of mares in April he lost his mind and bolted. I sent him home.#notsafe.

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        I would want to try to rule out physical issues.... maybe a bone scan? Have you x-rayed his back to rule out kissing spines? Or you could put him on a high dose of bute for two weeks ( with gastrogard) and see if that makes any difference? Sometimes that is a good place to start as it is cheap and easy. It does sound to me like it is likely at least partly physical, especially with him acting the same on the lunge and the out of character behaviour with the farrier. Fwiw, we've had a number of horses with bolting issues here. All except one were relatively easy to fix with a confident and competent rider in full training. I think it's imperative that he is always ridden by someone that is unphased by the bolting, preferably someone who has experience dealing with this. Maybe you want to consider a really good cowboy ( NOT the rough/manhandling type) to see what someone who sees this kind of thing all the time thinks? Where are you located?
                        www.svhanoverians.com

                        "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          Also wanted to say I think it's really sad the number of people who advocate for killing him. That isn't the "kind" think to do, it's the convenient thing. If you've exhausted all your efforts, put him the field with other horses and allow him to live his life out. THAT is the kind thing to do.
                          www.svhanoverians.com

                          "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by Donella View Post
                            Also wanted to say I think it's really sad the number of people who advocate for killing him. That isn't the "kind" think to do, it's the convenient thing. If you've exhausted all your efforts, put him the field with other horses and allow him to live his life out. THAT is the kind thing to do.
                            If the owner can afford to do that and if he can have his feet trimmed safely by the farrier, of course that’s the ideal scenario. However not anybody can afford a pasture pet and a safe, gentle end would be preferable to this horse ending up in a bad situation, or badly injuring someone.

                            Comment


                            • #54
                              Originally posted by Donella View Post
                              Also wanted to say I think it's really sad the number of people who advocate for killing him. That isn't the "kind" think to do, it's the convenient thing. If you've exhausted all your efforts, put him the field with other horses and allow him to live his life out. THAT is the kind thing to do.
                              You know, I did exactly that with my dangerous youngish horse, who was positively deadly under saddle (after about $20K in specialist training and all of the trainers ended up giving up, calling him unrideable) but sweet to handle. I worried about it because he was so talented and kind, I thought someone might try to ride him again...

                              Then the pasture home (who has references and I trusted them), who folks told me to donate him to so I could be kind, later went on to sell him as an eventer. I didn’t find out for a long time but my friend several years later texted me she thought she saw him (distinctive looking horse) and they were tying up his head to mount him (one of his tricks was bolting and bucking during mounting) and ripping on his mouth around corners and tiny circles to try to keep him from taking off, so yeah him. My worst nightmare came true. Couldn’t track him down though. So poor horse is god knows where now, if still alive, and spent however many years getting beaten around probably to try to make him submit. I think end of the day, it would have been more humane to put him down like I had wanted. Dangerous horses are likely to not have good lives, even when you try. Not saying it’s the same thing here, but just pointing out that just because someone chooses euthanasia doesn’t mean they’re being heartless. So often the other way around.
                              Mr. Sandman
                              sand me a man
                              make him so sandy
                              the sandiest man

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                Originally posted by Donella View Post
                                Also wanted to say I think it's really sad the number of people who advocate for killing him. That isn't the "kind" think to do, it's the convenient thing. If you've exhausted all your efforts, put him the field with other horses and allow him to live his life out. THAT is the kind thing to do.
                                I think I understand where you're coming from and that your heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, that sentiment is MUCH easier to have when it's not your money, or your field the horse is burning through. And... it's an even easier sentiment when you're not the farrier underneath the horse; or the vet who has to deal with him; or the dentist;... etc etc.

                                Personally, I believe that horses don't have the same hang-ups about death that people do. Especially if you allow yourself to consider that this horse's behavior is pain-based. There are worse things in this world for a horse in pain than death.

                                That's why it can be considered a humane option... it's not easy being the person to make that decision, but sometimes true kindness comes at the expense of our own feelings, regardless of whether it's 'easier.'

                                Comment


                                • #56
                                  To clarify, I am not suggesting that she give him away to a pasture home. I am suggesting she find a cheaper pasture board option and board him out herself. I think most people that own horses CAN afford that if they truly wanted to. After all, we all afford it when we are riding them and things are going wonderfully....

                                  Herecomeszack, well, I am a trainer/breeder and I make it happen with a number of horses of mine. I don't have the room at my farm so board them out. I can assure you that paying a vet to put them down would be A LOT easier than having to pay for them to live out their days. Putting an animal that is suffering down, yes, of course, that is our duty. Putting an animal down because I no longer want to pay for its expenses?

                                  As for his bad behaviour with farrier...sedate him. Not that difficult now with oral dorm gel etc.

                                  If the OP truly cannot afford to retire or do further diagnostics, then yes, euthanasia is kinder than giving him away or selling him into the unknown. Fair enough.
                                  www.svhanoverians.com

                                  "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    Originally posted by Donella View Post

                                    If the OP truly cannot afford to retire or do further diagnostics, then yes, euthanasia is kinder than giving him away or selling him into the unknown. Fair enough.
                                    It's not just a matter of cost. Other people will have to handle the horse: farrier, vet, dentist, often hired help of some sort. It's one thing if the owner, and the owner alone, is prepared to be the sole handler of the horse for the rest of its days. But asking others to put themselves at risk to handle a hand grenade is not responsible ownership, IMHO.

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      Not to mention he's 8 years old. I can't think of anyone I know that could commit to 20+ years of pasture board for a horse they're unable to ride.

                                      Comment


                                      • #59
                                        Originally posted by horsephotolady View Post
                                        He has never been the least bit touchy about his back, so I'd be surprised if the problem is kissing spines, but you never know.
                                        My horse was never back sore, but was always spooky and unpredictable. He bolted one day and bucked my trainer off, so I had his back x-rayed. The vet said the same thing as yours: he doesn't palpate sore and has regular chiro and massage, so why are you wasting your money?

                                        Turns out he had kissing spines. We did the ligament snip surgery and he started to move in a way I hadn't seen in years. Back lifted, developed a nice round butt, etc.

                                        Sometimes you have to ignore the experts and request diagnostics anyway.

                                        Comment


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by TequilaMockingbird View Post
                                          If I were in your shoes, I'd put this horse to sleep. He's already injured people (your farrier). How much longer before someone has to be hospitalized?

                                          He very well may have a physical issue causing this. No horse is going to do this maliciously. But unless you're willing to spend significant time and money above what you've already done, whether it's physical or mental is a moot point. You may discover 5 years and $15k later that it was a physical issue that can't be fixed in a way that will make him safe.
                                          Coming out of a LONG time lurking to say: I DID spend that $15k and never truly diagnosed the horse.

                                          OP, I bought a three year old off the track. She was a happy, lovely horse for the first couple years. I'm talking taking her out in a halter and lead rope for a bareback trail ride levels of trustworthy. At five, something changed and she started rearing and bolting. Spontaneously, out of the blue, we could be working on an active working trot or extended canter or walking on the buckle, and next thing I knew I had teleported across the ring. She ran blindly, without consideration for other horses, and there was no stopping her. It wasn't malicious, it was like a switch flipped and she lost her mind for a moment. After she was pulled up, she was frequently either scared, or simply went back to the exercise as if nothing had happened.

                                          For TWO YEARS I poured money into this horse. Trainers. Diets. Supplements. Time off. She went to TWO equine hospitals in my area (big names) and by the end of it, I had x-rays of every joint in her body, a bone scan, multiple things had been injected, etc.

                                          I did this because on the ground, she was an absolute sweetheart. Fine to handle, trailered, sweet with other horses. I wanted so badly to figure out what was wrong. I was also younger, and braver, and throughout this, I kept riding her because I could sit her episodes, and we could have two weeks of good rides with no episodes, working happily.

                                          It culminated at an in-barn show. We had been working on our First Level test for weeks and we were going to NAIL it. She walked into her home ring, made it once around, and melted down. And this time I didn't stay on past the initial bolt. To this day I remember being on the ground underneath her, looking up and being convinced she was about to flip backwards and crush me.

                                          In the two weeks that I was agonizing over my decision, her episodes started appearing on the ground as well, even standing out in the pasture. I had the option to keep her as a pasture pet on my own property, but decided that I didn't want to walk out one day to find that she had broken her neck after falling backwards in a rear or had impaled herself on a fence post.

                                          I had the full support of her entire vet team, my trainer, friends and family. I cried for weeks, every time I made a payment towards the huge bills I was left with, and I'm crying now while typing this, four years later. But shame on anyone telling you that euthanizing isn't a viable option (perhaps the only viable option) in this situation. These are 1000lb animals that can severely injure/kill not only themselves, but the humans around them. You cannot ethically give this horse to someone else, and a "full disclosure" doesn't prevent someone from suing you. Even if he doesn't badly hurt someone, he will eventually just work his way down the spiral of horse ownership until he ends up somewhere unfortunate. Or if you stick him in a pasture somewhere, he'll end up in front of a car or in some catastrophic accident where you'll have to put him down while in a crisis mode, and both of you deserve better.

                                          (As an aside, the mare above completely shot my confidence to an extent I didn't even realize in the moment, as I kept getting on her over and over again. Years later, I am STILL fixing the defensive habits and subconscious fear caused by her behavior, which is doing no favor to my current patient equines.)

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